This past Father’s Day I received a card from our entrepreneur son, Joshua, with a hand written note inside. It was a very nice, heart felt note and in part of it he thanked me for challenging him. I’ve told him on more than one occasion that if he could survive me, he’d be OK. When he was younger, he didn’t appreciate what that meant as much as he does now. When he was 17 the ARK Challenge business accelerator tested his limits . . . and he stood up to the challenge. Fourteen hour days, a high level of competition, countless deadlines, multiple failures, and constant learning. Why is it important that entrepreneurs routinely test their limits?
- We must routinely test our mental toughness, our physical endurance and our ability to perform under pressure. – We will be tested to our limits many times in our quest for success. We will have to deal with the stress of running out of money, product issues with a deadline looming, firing people (sometimes even our co-founders), and our loved ones needing our attention when we cannot give it. Will better planning, strong leadership, and hiring the right people help us avoid stress and tough decisions? Yes, but we have no control over many factors that can cause our company to spin wildly out of control and create challenges. It’s all about being prepared to handle whatever comes our way.
- We should test our limits in controlled environments – I test my mental toughness and physical endurance five times per week in the gym. I try to embrace the stress of deadlines and finalizing deals. I also have quiet time and practice my faith as a form of meditation. I do it because I need to know that I have the mental toughness, physical endurance, and confidence to deal with any challenge. As entrepreneurs we also must be self-aware and assess our own performance in pressure packed, challenging situations.
- Gather data on our own performance – While we may not be able to do it in the heat of the moment, we need to assess what happened after the fact and ask ourselves and others how we performed. We have to be brutally honest in these assessments to identify what we did well and where we need work. Once identified, we can pinpoint strategies for improvement and to make us better prepared. Knowing we are prepared to handle whatever comes will give us the confidence to embrace stress and challenges.
THE TAKE AWAY: The Boy and Girl Scouts got it right with their moto of BE PREPARED. It takes all we have to be successful entrepreneurs. With the odds of success already stacked against us, we must do everything we can, that is moral and legal, to gain an advantage. Most things we can do are pretty basic and just as important in our daily routine as our most important meetings or product deadlines. Even if you don’t like doing it, push yourself to be organized, plan ahead, exercise, eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, practice quiet meditation, and be thankful for your many gifts and opportunities every day. A positive attitude and confidence may be our best tools for dealing with adversity.